Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stamp of approval (Daily Photo 7.27.11)

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Leah likes to add a personal touch to Nik's artwork, using her asshole. If you leave paintings out on Nik's desk for more than a minute without touching it, she'll sit on top of them, regardless of whether they're dry, wet -- whatever.

Studio (Daily Photo 7.26.11)

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While poking around in the break room at work, I discovered the office's makeshift photo studio.

Hole in the house (Daily Photo 7.25.11)

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We've been doing some long overdue remodeling to the house lately -- refinishing some walls, painting, that kind of thing. While there, they suggested the kitchen would stay a lot cleaner if we installed a new range hood in the kitchen and vented it to the outside. I said sure, which required them to saw a hole into the side of my house to insert the ductwork. It still mystifies me that they can just go ahead and do that kind of thing. Also disturbed by seeing a hole in my house, even if only for a few minutes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bad blogger gets another blog

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I probably should've put this post up sooner, but I'm a bad blogger.

I recently started writing another blog for work. It's called Man Vs. World, and you can find it here. I hope you find it fun. It's a mix of weird news, bizarre stuff I find on the Internet, pop culture critiques, that sort of thing. So far there isn't a set schedule for it -- I'm writing posts as I find the time.

The blog posts are short, but I'm writing a longer column for print, too, to publish every other Sunday. Those will be published on the blog too. But if you're anywhere near my area, and let's face it, you aren't, so I'm not going to bother finish asking you to buy a printed copy.

You might also want to like the Facebook page they set up for me at work. It includes a picture of my stupid face. More importantly, it should notify you whenever I post something new. If you're interested. No pressure.

Anyway, enjoy.

Junk drawer, Part 2 (Daily Photo 7.24.11)

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As part of the kitchen remodeling we're having done at the moment, we're taking some time to look through drawers of stuff and re-evaluate whether or not all our junk is 100% necessary. We've come to realize, for instance, that we only need two frying pans. I threw out another six that were old and worn out. And while poking through the drawer of utensils while I was stashing things away in boxes, I found more junk that we've rarely, if ever, used. This wooden-handled ice pick (or is it an awl?) came with the house. It was stuffed in a drawer when we got here, and we never bothered to throw it away.

We own a garlic press, and yet I haven't actually pressed my own garlic cloves in something like four years. We buy jars of minced garlic. It's just easier.

I'm not sure this tea ball ever got any use. In any case, we can't see using it in the future, either. 

I'm be perfectly honest with you: I don't even know what in the fuck this is. If you can identify this thing, please let me know.

Sausage puts wind in some drunk woman (Daily Photo 7.23.11)

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We're having some remodeling work done to the house. It's a long overdue repainting of the kitchen, first floor hall, half-bathroom, and second-floor landing. While I hate the upheaval, and having the place look like a wreck for a week, it's giving us a chance to take a look at some things in the house we might not need anymore. I'm thinking specifically of my box of Magnetic Poetry pieces, which I placed on the side of the fridge maybe 6 years ago and never looked at again. I think the time is past for Magnetic Poetry -- I peeled off the pieces and threw the long-dusty and grimy box into the trash.

Bird (Daily Photo 7.22.11)

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My dad & I were in my garage doing a little DIY work when he said, "You have a bird." I looked over at the rack where I keep some gardening tools and saw, perched by the seeder on top of some paper bags, a bird. It was alive, mouth open and staring at us. I told it to fly off, but it wouldn't. So I moved a few things near it to shoo it away, and it only cocked its head. I soon figured out that it was a baby that probably fell of the nest, had gotten stuck in my garage, and couldn't fly its way out again. I tried to get it to leave the garage and find its parents, wherever they were, but it kept refusing to leave. Eventually a family friend, over my house to do some remodeling work, picked it up and placed it in a bush outside, where it promptly dropped off to the ground and hopped, confused, under the fence and into my yard where my dogs were playing. I didn't see what happened to it after that, but I'm going to go ahead and presume it's no longer with us. The good news is, the dogs didn't bring it in the house. That's all I know.

2 a.m. (Daily Photo 7.21.11)

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Enjoying the back porch furniture after midnight.

Night run with Stanley (Daily Photo 7.20.11)

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Took Stanley out at night for a run to beat the heat. It was quite dark, so it was hard to capture much of anything.

A thoughtful gift (Daily Photo 7.19.11)

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There are stray cats in our neighborhood who live underneath our bushes. Occasionally Nik will give them treats. Usually they're ungrateful about it, but today they did decide to show their appreciation by leaving us a present on the front walkway. There was another one, too, less mauled than this one.

A hole in space-time (Daily Photo 7.18.11)

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Actually a panorama of the backyard. Click it to embiggen, although there aren't any secrets hiding in here or anything.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Junk drawer (Daily Photo 7.17.11

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We're having our kitchen redone soon. In anticipation of this, we're moving stuff out, including the junk drawer. We found stuff we never knew we had -- or knew, but never threw away for some reason.

Green Silly Putty, a bit hardened but still silly.

A broken spindle from our stair bannister.

The name plate for the previous, and late, owner of our house, which we'd kept originally for ironic purposes.

And my favorite: a full gross (144) of cocktail umbrellas.

One thing I found that I'd actually been looking for was this: Nunzilla, a wind-up toy nun who walks and shoots sparks from her mouth. To think, the poor thing had been in a junk drawer all this time.

Trek (Daily Photo 7.16.11)

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Nik and I went to a Star Trek convention, our first. Believe it or not, it was on both our lists of things we should do before we die. You never know when that'll be -- so on Friday when I found, purely by accident, that there was a convention in Cambridge this weekend, we jumped at the chance.

We don't dress up or put on fake ears, as you can see, because that's just not our bag. The closest I got to it was wearing my Blue Demon Jr. luchador T-shirt, which is no big deal because I wear it all the time anyway. We're seen here with Jeffrey Combs, an actor who's played nine different characters on various Star Trek series, including some of our favorites. You can also see him in "Re-Animator," "The Frighteners," and "From Beyond," sucking someone's brain out through her eye socket. He's a very pleasant fellow.

I feel like I have to explain why we went to a Star Trek convention for some reason. Mostly because the trope of "the Star Trek convention" is pretty fucking hoary and conjures up images of thick-spectacled virgin weirdos with no ability to distinguish fantasy from reality congregating in deeply nerdtastic obese throngs and arguing over how many Klingons can dance on the head of a pin. I'm aware of that stereotype. So are they. Look at these people. They must know on some level this isn't how people usually dress day-to-day. What do they give a shit? They're having fun. That's great. I like to see people enjoying something in life for a change.

I'm a Star Trek fan. Nik made me one -- she introduced me to the shows, so I thank her for that. I know quite a bit about the series, although she knows much more. It's a great show. Star Trek is one of the only depictions of future society where the human beings haven't annihilated themselves or ruined the planet somehow -- and in fact they've used science to cure humanity of the plagues of superstition, religion, war, racism, greed, famine, and want. That's nice. I'd like to think maybe people will get there someday, and evolve into something better than we are now.

But that's just the show. Nik and I wanted to go to a convention because people in unique subcultures fascinate the shit out of us. I want to study everything about them and why they do the things they do. I want to learn every goddam thing there is to know about them. If they wear costumes, I want to see the costumes and learn if they made them themselves or if they were bought somewhere, and why they wear the specific colors they wear, and why they identify with certain fictional Star Trek races and not others. I'm fucking starving for information. I'm also paralyzingly shy, so I have to glean this information by eavesdropping and silently observing. But still, I want to know how many conventions they've gone to before this one, and see what they spend their money on, and why. Example: there were some massive 10-foot vinyl banners hanging in the convention hall. We found out that they'll all be autographed by the actors present and auctioned off to attendees. That fucking fascinates me. I had no idea. So the people who put on the event sell off the same decorations they made advertising the event to the people who went to the event. It's like recycling. Efficient! It's almost like every convention is like a going-out-of-business sale -- it's like going to a tent sale and then they sell everything in the tent including the damn tent. And it just inflames my curiosity more. Who buys these 10-foot vinyl banners, and why? Where do they display them? In their homes? Do they hang them in their garages? Do they have special rooms dedicated to Star Trek stuff? If so, what else is in there? What do they do in these rooms? What do they have, and what do they need? How did it start? How will it end? Listen: People are entire universes.  How can you get bored?

Part of the convention involves merch. It's astounding the range of merch there is, from paintings to toys to old board games to clothes, and how much people spend on it. We sat in on an auction and watched people bid big bucks for simple signed photographs. We were flabbergasted. Then Nik said, "I've spent $80 on a marathon." Different hobbies, I guess.

These, for example, appear to be props -- I don't know from where exactly. But that phaser (the thing with the gold handle) was going for $200. It was also heavy as hell, and appeared to be made of metal.

I have yet to understand the motives behind making or owning commemorative dishware. But someone likes it, because they keep making it. My grandmother owned a commemorative dish with John F. Kennedy's likeness on it, in almost exactly the same pose as Spock here.

One highlight of the convention was a trivia game, with winners getting hundreds of dollars in gift certificates. There were three rounds, and after sitting and watching the first round, Nik & I didn't dare go up to try out for the others. The questions were fiendishly difficult, even the "easy" ones. I was way out of my depth. And for people who think Star Trek is just for dorky guys, two out of the three trivia winners were women.

We had fun, although since we don't collect the merch or autographs I can't see us going back month after month or what have you. Going this time was good. We heard a few actors speak, and they didn't really say a whole lot. What can you say about a job you had 10 or 15 years ago? They're game enough to answer people's questions and make chit-chat about what their experience was like, but it's clear they're really there to give the fans a dose of nostalgia. We're still extremely curious about the phenomenon and the people who attend these things. This was only a tiny convention -- there's a major one happening in Las Vegas in August, with dozens of actors and probably thousands of fans, people in costume. We can't go, but if we ever did hit another convention we'd do a Vegas one. We've seen a regular convention, so now we have to see what the big one is like.

Lunch (Daily Photo 7.15.11)

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Spider and some sort of beetle.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Edward Scissorhands (Daily Photo 7.14.11)

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Nik & I and the dogs went for a walk downtown to check out the farmers' market held there on Old Second Street. On our way around we spotted Edward Scissorhands hanging outside the Dunkin' Donuts at the corner of South Main and Borden streets, handing out flyers for (naturally) a hair salon. The costume was fantastic. Real scissors and everything! Which is pretty horrifying considering he's handing out flyers to potentially busy passersby. Now that I think of it. Jesus.

Then again, he's right next to the courthouse. Sometimes you need a good pair of scissors when you're going to be hanging around criminals and whatnot.

Whatever. It was a great costume and he made our day.

I just hope he didn't accidentally slice any passing kids or dogs or whatever. Fucking nightmare. Wow.

Two beads of condensation hanging off the bottom of a glass of water (Daily Photo 7.13.11)

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Which is why  you always use a coaster.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Early morning run (Daily Photo 7.12.11)

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I haven't been doing a lot of running lately. Much of the reason why is the heat -- I never like running in the heat of summer and tend to avoid it as much as possible. Since I work until midnight now, I figure a good time to get in some mileage would be afterward. At 1:30 a.m. or so, there's no sun, no people, and it tends to be a lot less humid. The downside: I have to wear a headlamp to see where I'm going and bugs are attracted to it as if I'm a giant moving mosquito-zapper.

Hot dog (Daily Photo 7.11.11)

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With the high temperatures lately, I've been walking Stanley instead of running him. He's just as happy.

Crabs in the bush (Daily Photo 7.10.11)

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Worst way to die ever.

Marmite (Daily Photo 7.9.11)

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There's an aisle in my local Stop & Shop with about a 4-foot-wide section of shelf space dedicated to UK items. Contained here are things I either remember from my brief trip to London several years ago, or I've heard mentioned on the many UK-centric podcasts I listen to or TV shows I've seen. Heinz Baked Beans. HP Sauce. PG Tips. Mars bars and Smarties. Hob Nobs. McVitie's Digestives. Salad cream. Spotted Dick. And, of course, Marmite. I've heard legends told of Marmite -- of the love it/hate it relationship people have with it. I'm curious. If you've had experience with Marmite, please advise: Should I spend the $6.79?

Peeling shingles (Daily Photo 7.8.11)

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If anyone out there wants to step up and pay to have the exterior of my house redone, I'd be fine with that. They have this new kind of composite siding that looks like shingles. I'll have that. Buy it for me.

The amazing levitating milk jug (Daily Photo 7.7.11)

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While out for a walk, Nik & I stumbled across this fun little optical illusion of a milk gallon jug standing on its head (mouth? neck? what the fuck body part would that be?). It's not hard to figure out what's going on here, but if you need a hint, look below at the opposite view.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Catching up (Daily Photos 6.26 to 7.6.11)

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Let me explain briefly how Mister Fonzie's sausage is made. Normally I post these Daily Photo entries one at a time, and I like that method. It gives each photo its own space. I do that even when I get a backlog of, say, a week's worth of photos. But I haven't been able to catch up lately. At first I was too busy. Then my laptop's keyboard broke and was in the shop for almost a week. So I've got nearly two weeks to catch up on. I figured I'd make it easier on myself and compile them all into one post.

June 26: The Warrior Dash. Nik & I did this 3-mile slog through muddy Amesbury Sports Park. Read what we had to say about it here, on Daily Mile (Nik and Dan), and check out more photos at the 4 Feet Running blog. Also (possibly) (marginally) interesting: we shot these photos on actual film. Because the Warrior Dash would be fairly dangerous to any valuables kept in our pockets, we took along disposable film cameras we'd gotten for free a year ago as swag at a CVS 5K.

June 27: Dad turned 66 years old. It's hard to know what to get him, because he has everything he needs, so I got him a gift card to a local bowling alley. He's only played a few times in his life, but legend has it he's got quite the knack for it. I've never tried it myself.

June 28: My left hand felt sprained after the Warrior Dash. I thought it would go away after a couple of days, but it started to bruise a bit more badly. I had to take to taping my fingers and icing it.

June 29: Mean old dog in the bed.

June 30: Still more bruising on my hand, which I think actually looks sort of cool here because I can pretend I'm part of a fight club or something. Also, it hurts.

July 1: A view from the break room at work, quite grainy.

July 2: Ever since we moved into our house 6 or maybe 7 years ago, I've wanted nothing more than to sit on my porch and eat a leisurely breakfast. That's actually not true. I've also wanted a successful career, economic freedom and comfort, the respect of my friends and peers, self-confidence, emotional stability, new siding, a repaved driveway, the ability to recognize the good in others, and an assortment of new guitars. I've so far been able to get any of those things, so I have to settle for sitting on my porch and eating a leisurely breakfast. But we couldn't afford any furniture. That changed when Target put its selection of outdoor furniture on clearance. Now I can sit out there, relax, have my coffee, eggs and bacon, and breakfast al fresco while I stare at the floorboards and wonder if I'll ever make enough money to get them repainted.

July 3: South Main Street, night.

July 4: The Fourth is a fairly big holiday in my family. It's Nik's Gramma's birthday -- she turned 97. She was mixed about it. It's also the date we arbitrarily picked for Stanley's birthday -- he turned 6. He was thrilled, as usual. We took him to Pratt Farm in Middleboro, a small park with short, easy hiking trails and a pond, all his favorites in one place. 

July 5: Fruit flies in the house. One dropped into my home-brewed iced coffee, adding a dash of protein.

July 6: After about 5 days without a computer, I finally got my MacBook Pro back from the shop. The keyboard had gotten fried before the holiday because Nik tripped and spilled a teeny-tiny drop of coffee on it. It killed my H, Y, 6, and Num Lock keys. So I took it to our usual Apple repair shop and they took their sweet goddam time fixing it. The fixit-guys have an old Apple Lisa 2 (or possibly a Macintosh XL) just hanging around on a table with a bunch of other crap piled near it. I asked, and they claim it still works, though I think that's horseshit until I see it for myself. MacWorks or GTFO!
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